[Press & Publications] International Physics Olympiad 2000



July 2000

No 133

The world's best athletes may be heading for Sydney, but the best brains are gathering in Leicester where 300 young scientists from around the world will test their skills.

The University of Leicester, UK, is busy putting the final touches to the programme for the competition to find the champions among tomorrow's physicists.

On 8 July, student teams from 63 countries will assemble at the Leicester campus for an eight-day event that will test their scientific skills to the hilt. Those selected will already have passed a rigorous series of examinations in their own countries before embarking on this, the 31st International Physics Olympiad.

The challenges facing them now are testing theoretical and experimental examinations to decide the gold, silver and bronze medallists for the year 2000. When not engaged in solving mind-baffling problems the young people will enjoy a full social programme, including visits to Cambridge, Oxford and Alton Towers. They will also have the opportunity to participate in simulated space missions in the nearby Challenger Learning Centre, part of the National Space Science Centre Millennium project in Leicester.

Catering for 27 languages will be no barrier to the Olympiad delegates, thanks to software benefiting from the University Computer Centre's work with Microsoft on development of Windows 2000. Resulting state-of-the-art technology will enable competitors to type assignments in their own languages. A software image, created specially for the Olympiad, and Office 2000 with full international language support, will be installed simultaneously on 80 computers made available via the campus network.

Highlights and points of media interest from the 31st Physics Olympiad include:

  • The International Physics Olympiad is an annual competition for the world's best young physicists who pit their academic and experimental skills against their counterparts from other nations. The 2000 event, held at the University of Leicester from Saturday 8th July to Sunday 16th July, will be the 31st Olympiad and the first to be held in the UK for fourteen years. A record 63 countries will take part with each delegation consisting of five students and one adult leader.
  • Opening ceremony in Leicester's De Montfort Hall, SUNDAY 9 JULY, 11.00am. National teams will process into the hall, where they will be welcomed by the Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Mrs Barbara Chambers; the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Mr Timothy Brooks; the High Sheriff of Leicestershire, Mr Anthony Wessel; the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, Professor Robert Burgess; the Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees FRS; and the former Director General of the Meteorological Office, Sir John Mason, CB, FRS. Sir Martin and Sir John are, respectively, President and Chairman of the British Physics Olympiad Committee. This opening event is sponsored by the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council.
  • Awards Presentation and Closing Ceremony in De Montfort Hall, Saturday 15 July, 3.30 pm. Medals and prizes will be presented by two Nobel Laureates, Anthony Hewish, FRS, Professor of Radioastronomy, University of Cambridge; and Sir Harold Kroto, FRS, Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Sussex and Honorary Graduate of the University of Leicester; with Professor Christopher Llewellyn Smith, former Director General of CERN and now Provost of University College, London; and Professor Robert Burgess, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester.
  • The British Team. The team, which was selected from 10,000 competitors in national trials, comprises Andrew Hudson, Dinnington Comprehensive, Sheffield; Henry Lockwood, Howard of Effingham School, Surrey; Chris Pedder, Nottingham High School; Edward Smith, Haberdashers' Aske's School, Elstree, Herts; and Andrew Thomas, who is British, but lives in Toronto. During the 1999 International Physics Olympiad, the previous British team won silver and bronze medals as well as a special prize for their experimental work.
  • The Olympiad Newsletter - The IPHO Files. Every day contestants will find a fresh copy of the daily newsletter on their breakfast tables, outlining the highlights of the previous day's activities. This will be produced by four students from the University of Leicester, under the editorship of Physics and Astronomy undergraduate, Louise Thorn. The newsletter will also be found on the Olympiad website - http://www.star.le.ac.uk/IPhO-2000/
  • The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Leicester is one of Britain's leading physics and astronomy departments with a world-wide reputation in both teaching and research. Through research collaborations in more than a dozen countries, the department plays a leading role in international research programmes in observational and theoretical astronomy, space instrumentation, ionospheric and plasma physics, earth observation science and condensed matter physics. An annual research and contract income of 4 million is among the highest per staff member for any UK university physics department.
  • The National Space Science Centre. The University and City of Leicester are co-sponsors of the National Space Science Centre, a 46.5M Millennium Commission Landmark Project. It includes the Challenger Learning Centre, the first of its kind to be built outside North America, where schools can experience the thrill and excitement of a mission to Mars or the search for a comet, and can learn the skills that are involved.
  • Further information is available from Dr Martin Barstow, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, tel +44 (0)116 252 3492, fax +44 (0)116 252 3311, email mab@star.le.ac.uk.

    Picture and interview opportunities: Opening and closing ceremonies [see above], plus others possible by contacting Dr Martin Barstow directly.

    STUDIO-QUALITY RADIO INTERVIEW FACILITY FOR BBC AND COMMERCIAL STATIONS AVAILABLE ON CAMPUS. STUDIO NUMBER 0116 285 4062.


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